A brief Viking history

During the years 845 to 850, one of the area’s most severely harassed from the Boyne was the sub-kingdom ruled by Tighearnach from a crannog in Loch Gabhor, near Dunshaughlin.  Its territory ran right up the Boyne at and about Scurlogstown, and was therefore particularly subject to surprise attacks.

Under the date A.D. 846, the four Masters record:

“A victory was gained by Tighearnach, Lord of Loch Gabhor over the foreigners at Daire-disirt-Dachonna, where twelve score of them were slain by him”

O’Donovan explains the place name “i.e. the oak wood of St. Dachonna’s Desert.

Assuming that this Viking Attack came from the Boyne and if their objective was the plunder and destruction of Tighearnach’s headquarters, they might be expected to proceed by boat to that point on the Boyne nearest Dunshaughlin. A glance at the map will show that this point was or about Scurlogstown. If their purpose was merely to secure a supply of beef, a landing at Scurlogstown would also suit their purpose.

The victory of Tighernach however may not have been quite so complete. The Vikings at that time were tough fighters, and we may be sure that Tighearnach did not inflict such heavy losses on them without suffering fairly heavy casualties himself. We must also consider the possibility that the Vikings having lost some important personage in the battle, were anxious to break off the engagement and retire, while they were capable of conducting an orderly retreat.

What might we reasonably expect the Vikings to do, when they reached their bridgehead at Scurlogstown? If there was no sign of interference from hostile forces, we might expect them to bury their dead in accordance with their Viking customs. The rank and file would be interred in a common grave, orientated North-South. The important personage would be buried separately. Possibly his boat was dragged up from the river, to give him the honourable burial his rank demanded. Possibly his tomb was made to look like a boat.

Article courtesy of Cynthia Simonet